Oregon business owners cooperate to survive

ASHLAND, Ore. – Surviving the recession has led some Ashland business owners to try banding together and pooling resources to save money.

One group of businesses is talking about creating a cooperative warehouse and distribution service in Ashland to cut equipment and labor costs.

A guild of natural healers is forming to foster teamwork and increase patient referrals. And a distributor is expanding his business by working with local farmers to deliver fresh produce to Ashland doorsteps.

One of the companies that is considering the cooperative warehouse and distribution service is EcoTeas, an Ashland company that makes a topselling organic loose leaf yerba mate, a tea-like herb especially popular in parts of South America.

“One of the things we’re exploring is how to cooperate with other local businesses to cut our overhead by sharing certain resources,” said EcoTeas founder and CEO, Stefan Schachter.

Last year was a particularly rough year for Schachter’s company due to rising fuel costs and inflation in Argentina, where the company’s yerba mate is grown, he said.

“We’re working on recovering from that,” Schachter said. “We’re doing a number of things to adjust.”

Schachter hopes to find a way to move his company’s tea packaging operations from Northern California to Ashland.

Having a cooperative warehouse and distribution service would enable EcoTeas to share the costs of equipment and labor with other Ashland businesses.

The company is also hoping to have local farmers grow some of the herbs used to make its teas, he said.

Meanwhile, a group of chiropractors, naturopathic doctors, nurses, coaches, counselors and others are working together to encourage teamwork and patient referrals.

They’re discussing the formation of a guild so members can easily give discounts on their services by packaging them together and hold group health fairs.

In another move to build a local market, Ashland distributor Tom Marks decided to shift his focus by delivering produce to Ashland homes.

Marks now runs Organic Wagon and is working to establish more relationships with local farmers, he said.

He is also working more closely with local stores, such as Market of Choice, that sell the beverages he distributes because sales have become more unpredictable since the recession struck.

“It’s really hard on the stores,” Marks said. “They’re having a difficult time predicting what sales are like now.”

Information from: The Ashland Daily Tidings, http://www.dailytidings.com

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One response to “Oregon business owners cooperate to survive

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